By Brooke Rogers

NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – In New York City, the nation’s largest school system, elementary school students will soon be back in-person. It’s a trend that more school districts across the country are embracing. Education policy expert and author Elliot Haspel says that’s in part because of the first of the three Rs.

“Particularly early elementary, so Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd, mainly what you’re doing is you’re learning how to read,” he said. “It’s really hard to do that when you have one teacher and 20 first graders on little boxes on the screen. ”

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Younger children, he said, are less self-sufficient and also learn through social and emotional development.

“The young children really thrive on play. They thrive on interacting with one another. That is how their brains develop, how they’re designed,” he said.

Other major American cities are coming to the same conclusion. And while none of the three largest school districts in N. Texas said it’s something they’re currently considering, some said they should.

“I worry less about the academic component,” said Dallas pediatrician Dr. Julie Linderman. “I think that the sense of isolation, fear, depression and anxiety, if there’s been issues with neglect or abuse, if there’s issues with food security. Those issues are big.”

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Experts agree it requires thought and resources, but they believe it can be done safely.

“We’re not seeing school-driven cases like we’re seeing community-driven cases of COVID,” said Dr. Linderman. “Even in my pediatric office, the majority of the cases we’ve seen have been parent to child.”

And if it’s not, Haspel worries that the long-term effects could be devastating.

“The potential consequences if we don’t do some massive remediation or intervention on the other end could be generational,” he said.

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